HP is about to release their new webOS tablet known as HP TouchPad, a 9.7-inch form factor to catch up with the other tablets like Apple iPad.

Last year, HP had launched their tablet PC version known as HP Slate 500 PC to counter Apple iPad. Although the tablet had better specifications than iPad, it was left far behind iPad in terms of sales and market share.

The new 9.7-inch TouchPad will be launched on July 1 with the Wi-Fi version priced at $499.99 and $599.99 for 16GB and 32GB storage, respectively. Also, the tablet will be launched in U.K, Ireland, France and Germany on July 2 and in Canada on July 15.

HP is giving a lot of attention to its webOS platform. After TouchPad, HP plans to bring webOS to PCs as an alternative to Windows. The webOS platform is already available in HP’s Veer smartphone launched under AT&T and the Pre3. Now webOS powered HP TouchPad is entering a field where others' tablets and OS have failed in competing with Apple’s iOS and the iPad.

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The webOS doesn’t come with home screen in the same sense as iOS, but it includes a launcher with common applications and pop-up view of all installed apps. Although Apple iPad offers search screen attached to the iOS home screen, it is not easily accessible. At the same time, webOS brings global search box that is available in card view for easier searching of email messages, contacts, Web pages and apps. The webOS approach of cloud based syncing and letting users view content from all sources in one place spanning multiple services like email, text messages and Facebook puts it above Apple’s current setup. Moreover, one of the important advantages that the HP’s TouchPad has over iPad is its support for Flash and the fact that it offers hardware acceleration of Flash content and all Web rendering.

Hewlett-Packard Vice President Richard Kerris in an interview with Fox Business Network said, “First of all it’s about webOS. It’s about an operating system built from the ground up for the web. And because of that we have a lot of capabilities that are unique to the platform, such as synergy, where we can tie together all the different elements from your digital life, whether it’s photographs or email. We’re not afraid of any websites or flash sites, things like that, your calendars. And we bring it all together in one easy to use and easy to manage way. And I think that’s one of the key things that’s going to differentiate us out there.”

The business oriented consumers may like HP TouchPad’s seamless printing capabilities for HP printers while Apple’s AirPrint for iOS has support for limited number of models.

HP has said that thousands of apps are available for webOS, but specific number of apps has not been released while Apple iPad boasts of 90,000 applications. In order to accelerate the growth of web developer community, the company plans to launch introduce “Pivot”, an HP App Catalog magazine to be published every month with its app store to counter the lack of apps. The Pivot with articles and photos from journalists and photographers affiliated with leading publications plans to highlight applications, interesting developers and popular apps. Most of the contents will be related to apps. The magazine is expected to be published in English, French, German and Spanish.

Apart from the 9.7-inch tablet, HP is also planning to launch another 7-inch tablet in August according to Taiwan Economic News. The report said, Inventec has received big-ticket orders for tablet PCs from HP, for both the 9.7-inch TouchPad and a 7-inch model launching in August. Reports show that Inventec has received orders for 400,000 to 450,000 Touch Pad tablet PCs to be produced every month for HP. That will help HP produce 3 million HP TouchPad’s this year.

In terms of competition for the HP TouchPad, Richard Kerris said “I don’t think android has done a great job with the honeycomb of tablets. There’s a lot of fragmentation for example, and developers are frustrated. And of course Apple makes great products. But I think the way we look at ourselves is one area is a closed kind of walled garden, and it’s beautiful, but it’s walled and it’s their way or the highway. And you have the other area which is kind of the wild Wild West, and it’s fragmented and it’s anything goes. And that’s kind of frustrating to developers. And here we come in the middle. We make our own hardware. We make our own software, and by providing a confident and consistent environment for both developers and customers, they are going to have an experience of one they will really like. But we’re not afraid to open up too. We support what we call the homebrew community which allows you to go off the beaten path if you want and explore other areas. And some phones or tablets will call that jailbreaking, but not us; we think that’s really great to do. So I think we have a nice spot in the middle here.”

Here is specs comparison of Apple iPad 2 and HP TouchPad:

HP TouchPad has a dimension of 240 x 190 x 13.7 mm and weighs 740 g. While Apple iPad 2 comes with 241.2 x 185.7 x 8.8 mm and weighs 607 g.

Both the tablets have 9.7-inch 768 x 1024 pixels display but iPad 2 has LED-backlit IPS TFT, capacitive touchscreen, 16M colors compared to HP tablets TFT capacitive touchscreen.

Input features:
The input features found in HP TouchPad include accelerometer sensor for UI auto-rotat, multi-touch input method and Gyroscope sensor. The iPad 2 has features like fingerprint/scratch resistant oleophobic surface, multi-touch input method, accelerometer sensor for auto-rotate and three-axis gyro sensor.

HP’s TouchPad has 1 GB RAM and comes with 16/32 GB storage whereas iPad 2 has 16/32/64 GB storage and 512 MB RAM.

WLAN/Bluetooth/ USB:
Both the tablets have Wi-Fi 802.11 a/b/g/n, Bluetooth version 2.1 with A2DP and EDR along with microUSB version 2.0.

Apple’s tablets comes with 0.7-megapixel 960 x 720 pixels primary camera and there is a secondary VGA camera. Meanwhile HP’s tablet only features 1.3-megpixel camera.

HP’s tablet comes with a powerful 1.2 GHz Scorpion dual-core Qualcomm APQ8060 Snapdragon chipset processor whereas iPad 2 has 900 MHz dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 PowerVR SGX543MP2 GPU Apple A5 chipset processor.

When it comes to battery HP TouchPad is expected to feature Li-Ion 6300 mAh battery while iPad 2 has Li-Po 6930 mAh (25 Wh) battery.

Here are videos of HP TouchPad:

Manny Pacquiao HP TouchPad with WebOS Commercial Video: